| Aki Shurelds
Aki Shurelds, a rising senior at The College of Wooster, is preparing to head to Beijing where she'll be attending Peking University for the majority of the summer as a student within the China Studies Institute program on a Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship, sponsored by the U.S. Department of State's Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs.
Shurelds is the fifth Wooster student to earn a prestigious Gilman Scholar award since the beginning of the 2016-17 academic year.
A Chinese major with a minor in business economics, Shurelds has been around the Chinese culture her whole life and now looks forward to immersing herself in it. "My grandma has been teaching Cantonese since I can remember … but with this (upcoming) experience I want to further my knowledge and learn a different dialect, which is Mandarin," she explained.
With about a quarter of the world's population speaking Chinese, Shurelds' bilingual skills will serve her very well in the post-graduation job market. In fact, she already works as a translator at a senior housing facility in her home area of San Francisco, and plans on a similar career path. "As of now, I'm interested in translating … possibly in an education setting, corporate setting, or administrative work," she said.
In addition to perfecting her language skills and taking in a new environment, Shurelds has a few advanced courses at the China Studies Institute on her schedule, plus finishing requirements for Wooster's junior Independent Study (I.S.).
Shurelds is also particularly grateful for the option to study abroad during the summer. This way she won't miss out on another passion, playing basketball for Wooster, and the coaching staff and her teammates are thankful the 5-6 sharp-shooting guard will be available for the entirety of the 2017-18 season as well.
Gilman scholarships, named after the 30-year member of the U.S. House of Representatives, are administered by the Institute of International Education and provided to U.S. citizens of limited financial means to enable them to study or intern abroad.
"If I had to pay for all the expenses out-of-pocket, it would have been a real struggle," commented Shurelds. "Winning (this) scholarship was really great."
Shurelds noted that Kate Patch, director of off-campus study at Wooster, and professors Rujie Wang and Ziying You were all "super helpful" during the application process.